SWISH

How many times do we find ourselves looking back at a situation and thinking, “Why did I get so upset?” I know I do, and then I add to that, “And what was I thinking (or not thinking) when I said/wrote that?”

It’s funny how we always blow everything up from manageable to unmanageable. You know what I mean? We get to a new job, we settle in a little and see everyone running around like chickens with their heads cut off, and we think to ourselves, “What’s the big deal? This isn’t so bad.” Then, a few months later, once we are fully settled in and as emotionally invested (so to speak) as everyone else, we are the ones running around and the new guy is thinking to himself, “What’s all the hubbub about? This isn’t so bad.”

Give it a few months, buddy, just give it a few months.

By now you are thinking, “Yeah, I know what you mean, but what the heck does that have to do with SWISH?”

I’m glad you asked.

So What, I‘m Saved…Hallelujah! That’s what SWISH is- keeping things in control, not going crazy, or getting upset, or allowing our self-absorbed ego’s to make us so frustrated that we say or do things we shouldn’t. SWISH is how we say, “Stand at ease!!” to ourselves.

The server is down and the clients are screaming they can’t work…SWISH.

I’m late and the car won’t start…SWISH.

My kids are driving me crazy and I need to get all this housework done, with no one helping me…SWISH

I’m broke, the bills are piling up and my marriage is falling apart…SWISH  (if you can SWISH with all that going on, you are a pro at it.)

This is hard to do, but we can all get there if we try hard enough and pray often enough.

SWISH isn’t to be used in a negative way, meaning we shouldn’t be apathetic, unconcerned or uncooperative. It is a way for us to be able to go through what is happening now without having to experience the emotional upheaval we feel at this moment (check out this post: https://messianicmoment.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/see-today-through-tomorrows-eyes/). It’s a way to keep things in perspective, to maintain control of ourselves and our feelings, and to demonstrate what it really means to be filled with the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, by keeping our heads on when everyone else is running around with their heads, well, somewhere other than between their shoulders.

It’s really easy to understand, but intensely hard to do. It takes practice (believe me, I am a novice at this myself) and dedication. And it takes more than human dedication- it takes a divine dedication, like when we first were imbued with His spirit, like when we came to salvation, like the first moment we felt His presence. Doesn’t it make you feel relaxed and joyful just thinking about that moment?

That’s SWISH. When you find yourself in the middle of “This is all wrong” or “All this bad stuff is happening” and you are thinking, “The world is falling in all around me: even Job had it better than I do!” When you get there (and we all do, sooner or later) just think for a second how it will all seem so insignificant when you are in your resurrected body, living in the New Creation and constantly in the presence of God. Imagine how silly you will think you acted when you look back at this very moment and remember what it was like to be human, as you sit in judgement over the Nations.

Have you experienced the overwhelming joy and total relaxation of  being held in the arms of the Lord of lords and King of kings?

Can you remember that feeling? Can you feel it? Right now?

That, my friends, is what SWISH is all about.

His Presence is Always Present

In the Manual we read about God’s presence. There was the time He decided to go down and see what was happening in Sodom and Gomorrah, He also went down to see what the humans were doing at Babel, His presence filled the Tabernacle and the Temple, and how many times have there been when you were worshipping and you felt the presence of the Lord all around you?

It’s really nice, isn’t it? For me, I feel spiritually relaxed, unburdened and often I cry: the tears just come all on their own. Tears of joy, of comfort and of peace.

The problem is that it doesn’t last. We feel His presence, we can actually even sense His touch: that sort of chill that goes through you. I remember when I first experienced that as the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) physically entered me. I felt totally ethereal, like I was spirit. It happened about 18 years ago, and it still gets to me, emotionally and physically. I still get all teary-eyed when retelling it.

Whenever we feel His presence it is wonderful. Why then don’t we feel it all the time? After all, God is omnipresent, is He not? That means that He doesn’t really “go down” to anywhere- He is already there. God is always right here, just a hand’s reach away from us, ready to grab us as we fall or hold us back when we go rushing into disaster.

His presence is always present, so why don’t we always feel it? The truth is painfully simple: we can’t come into His presence because we are too into ourselves. The Holy Spirit may live within us, but we have to give it more room if we want to feel it more often. A small paper cut on the finger will hurt when we get it, and then we get used to the pain and it seems that it no longer hurts, until we get lemon juice in it. WOW! Then you remember you have the cut!

The Holy Spirit is much nicer than a paper cut, but the idea is the same. We become inured to it’s presence and we forget about it. We don’t remember it’s there until we pour some lemon juice on it, the lemon juice being our sinful actions, words or feelings. When we are doing something sinful we are then reminded by the Spirit that it is still there. It causes us pain, and helps us to want to wash off the sin like we wash out the lemon juice.

With a paper cut, we put a bandage over it to stop it from hurting. How many of us have put on a spiritual bandage to prevent ourselves from feeling the Ruach when it wants to remind us it’s there?  Every time we do not “die to self” so that the Spirit can live more fully within us, we are placing a band aid on the Ruach. The more bandages on the Ruach, the less likely we will feel the sting of sin when we do something wrong in God’s eyes. And the more we cover it, the less we sense His presence, so it seems that God is not near us. But He is near- He is right there, at your side, at my side, holding out His hand and asking us to take hold.

If you want to feel the presence of the Lord more often, more intently, and more completely, remove the bandages. Allow the soreness of sin to remind you quickly and painfully that you are not doing as the Spirit leads.

We are a container- we are filled with ourselves and with the Spirit, but the container can only hold so much. If you want more Spirit, you need to make room by getting rid of more of yourself. I used to be frightened to death by that statement (literally, since this fear of losing myself meant that I was rejecting the truth about Messiah Yeshua); but now, after I faithfully took that leap and accepted Messiah, I find that I am not really losing who I am, I am just becoming a better me. The more the Spirit leads me  ( scratch that, change it to this):  the more I allow the Spirit to lead me, the better a person I am.

I have been given the gift of humor, and I used to misuse it by making people laugh with nothing but bawdy jokes, and I used foul language to shock the humor out of people. I can tell you this: it worked a lot, but it also got me in a lot of trouble. I still find exotic humor (OK, OK…yes, I admit it, they’re dirty jokes) funny but I have “toned it way down”, and I can still be funny without being sinful. Richard Pryor was one of the funniest men I ever heard, and he was well known for being filthy, but he was also exceptionally funny (when he started out) on the Ed Sullivan and the Tonight shows, and there were no dirty jokes allowed on those shows. The spirit of humor God gave me is like anything else from God- how well I use that gift is based on how much I let the Spirit guide me in it’s use.

God is always here, he never leaves, He never sleeps, He doesn’t need to hit the head; God’s presence is always present. It’s us, it’s me, it’s you, it’s the flesh that prevents the Spirit from being felt and it’s our self-absorbed nature that numbs us to God’s touch.

All any of us needs do to feel God’s presence is to reach out to Him, but to do that we need to let go of whatever we are holding on to. What you are holding on to, you need to determine for yourself.

What to Say When You Have Nothing to Say

Obviously… you say nothing.

You provide a presence that is caring, compassionate, and silent. Think of when you are in God’s presence- do you hear a lot of noise? Maybe there is worship music in the background, maybe there is someone singing, or maybe (as I find it most effective) you are under your Tallit, wrapped around your head as if in a cocoon of worship, and all the background noise is just a whisper to you as you feel God’s warmth, His love, His overwhelming joy being absorbed into your very soul.

There is no way any of us can give that wonderful, totally peaceful experience, but we can take a hint from the Lord and be that quiet presence that soothes and helps. When someone is in pain, either physically or emotionally, people think they should say something. We watch too much TV and too many movies, where someone says something that is a vitally pointed remark, one that empowers and helps the poor wretch to come back to reality, or see the truth; commercial break , and then back to the show where now everyone is happy.

That’s all make-believe! There are many people reviewing the words used, creating the emotional situation, as well as the circumstances- it is all staged, all planned, all fake! TV and movies are not real life.

In real life we have to deal with the idiots who hurt others and don’t care- no amount of talking will make them see the light, and on TV after the commercial it is years later while in real life it is just the very next second- nothing has changed, and we have to continue to suffer with these dolts and bullies just as before we said anything. And the people who we try to help still hurt. Sometimes they never get over it, sometimes they never want to get over it, and more often than not nothing we do will make a difference.

And you can’t change the channel, either!

So what do you do? You stay silent. Yeshua tells us not to throw pearls before swine and not to continue to kick against the goads. I think we owe it to people to try to help with our experience and understanding, but not to nag and not to feel upset or chided when they refuse to listen. Everyone has free will, and if God can teach us anything about treating others, it is to allow them to make their own choices and respect their right to do so enough where we aren’t pridefully insulted if they don’t do what we think is best.

I write email responses that I usually delete because I have learned (and believe me- it took a long time and a lot of chewing out’s before I finally got the message) that when I am not sure what to say, I should say nothing.  And also that when I know exactly what I want to say, it is usually best if I still say nothing.

The most powerful feeling and experience I have ever had is when I am quietly in the presence of God. I cannot give that feeling to anyone because, well, I’m not God. Duh!! But I can “be there” for someone, I can gently hold their hand, put my arm around them, or just sit, quietly, next to them without saying or doing anything other than being there. They will feel my presence, and they will be able to find some small comfort in that.

That’s the best we can do, and more often than not, I think it’s all we should do.

Nothing else to say.